Nokia targets Apple with new services, gadgets

Nokia unveiled new services and cell phones that customers can use to download music and play games, a bid by the world's largest mobile phone maker to challenge Apple's higher-end iPhone, as well as iTunes and the iPod, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the move by Nokia, whose basic handsets give it a strong position in emerging markets, is the latest recognition that high-end markets require handsets with photo, music and video capabilities and quick access to the Internet.

One of Nokia's new phones can hold up to 6,000 songs, the report said. Other new gadgets include headphones, docking stations and speakers.

Nokia said it will focus its new web services in a site known as 'Ovi,' Finnish for 'door,' that will include an online music store 'with millions of tracks from major labels,' the report said.

With the new services, consumers will be able to transfer music from PCs to compatible Nokia devices and play and download N-Gage games on 'tens of millions' of existing Nokia devices, the company said.

The Associated Press report quoted American Technology Research analyst Mark McKechnie as saying that Nokia's 'expanded efforts into services "&brkbar; will enable (the company) to offer `experiences' rather than just "˜devices,' which we believe will become more important as mobile services move from voice-centric to Internet-centric.'

Nokia's new top-range models, some including 5 megapixel cameras, Carl Zeiss optics, and memory of up to 8Gb, range from $300 to $750.

Nokia bought Loudeye, a leading provider of digital media distribution services, for $60 million last year to expand its digital music offerings.  

Now it has completed deals with the four major music labels, Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, EMI Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the Associated Press report further said.